The addition of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors to eukaryotic proteins in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum is catalyzed by the transamidase complex, composed of at least five subunits (PIG-K, PIG-S, PIG-T, PIG-U and GPAA1). Here PIG-K(24-337) and PIG-S(38-467) from yeast, including the residues 24-337 and 38-467 of the entire 411 and 534 residue protein, respectively, was produced in Escherichia coli and purified to homogeneity. Analysis of secondary structure by circular dichroism spectroscopy showed that yPIG-K(24-377) comprises 52% α-helix and 12% β-sheet, whereas yPIG-S(38-467) involves 58% α-helix and 18% β-sheet. The radius of gyration (R(g)) and the maximum size (D(max)) of both proteins have been analyzed by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and determined to be 2.64±0.3 and 10.3±0.1 nm (yPIG-K(24-377)) as well as 3.06±0.02 nm (R(g)) and 16.9±0.4 nm (D(max)) in the case of yPIG-S(38-467), respectively. Using an ab initio approach, the first low-resolution solution structures of both proteins were restored. yPIG-K(24-377) is an elongated particle consisting of an egg-like portion and a small globular segment linked together by an 1.9 nm long stalk. yPIG-S(38-467) forms an elongated molecule in solution with a larger domain of 10.1 nm in length, a diameter of 9.1 nm and a smaller domain of 6.7 nm in length and 3.4 nm in width. The two domains of yPIG-S(38-467) are tilted relative to each other. Finally, the arrangements of PIG-K and PIG-S inside the ensemble of the transamidase complex are discussed.
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